You Can’t Get There From Here

Bette Dowdell

A man stops to ask directions, only to be told, “You can’t get there from here. If you were in Freeport, you could get there, but you can’t get there from here.”

So he asks how to get to Freeport. “See. That’s the hard part. You can’t get to Freeport.”

We laugh, but too many of us are behaving as if this were serious information about the journey called life. If, in fact, you can call stuck-in-a-rut a journey at all.

Too many of us invest in the “can’t get there from here” scenario and give up before we take the first step. The Chinese saying, “The longest journey starts with a single step,” doesn’t apply because we won’t take that first step.

And what is this misinformation that causes us to give up without trying?

“Well, you came from a dysfunctional family. You can’t expect to get to success from a start like that.”

“You blew it when you didn’t go to college. You’d be better off if you learn to be content where you are.”

Or we’re too young. Or too old. The wrong color. The wrong sex. Our history has blemishes. We’re too poor. Come from the wrong place. The list is endless.

The fact is, people are willing to stand in line for a chance to tell us why we can’t get from here to there, there being where our dreams are.

And they’re wrong. What we’ve come through provides the gas in the engine for where we want to go. We’ve learned a lot from our so-called “problems,” and it’s stuff that can’t be learned any other way. We just need to let it motivate us and not let it drag us down. ,

But we won’t even try if we keep listening to the naysayers. Who are these dream-killers? They’re people coasting through life without dreams, mainly because they don’t want to do the work that dreams entail. The way they see it is if you don’t try, you can’t fail. You also can’t succeed, but apparently that’s less painful to them than risking failure. And don’t bother trying to explain to them that failure is a building block to success if you keep on keeping on.

If the quit-now gang consists of casual acquaintances, we can just tune them out. It’s harder if they’re friends. They’re not going to change just because we have a dream. And they don’t want us to change because our success will reflect poorly on them.

If they can’t talk us out of it, and we persist in following our dream, they’ll dump us like a bag of wet garbage. And that’s just fine. Anybody who wants to hold us back isn’t really a friend. We’ll need to find new friends who prefer goal-setting to coasting, Full of dreams themselves, they’ll understand. And cheer us on.

Dealing with dream killers is hardest if it’s our family who insists we shouldn’t try to be more than they say we are. We can try to show them how they would benefit from our success. We can try to press on toward our goals in spite of all their talk of defeat.

But if they’re pulling us down faster than we can climb up, we may need to love them from a distance. Or we can give up our dream, stay down, and spend our days mourning our loss of what might have been–dead people walking.

The important thing to remember is we can get to some place good from wherever we are–if we’re willing to start the race. Regardless of where we’ve been, everybody has to start somewhere, and where we are now is the only place we have for starting.

Where you are now is your place of new beginnings.

Go get ‘em, Tiger. Or Tigress, as the case may be.

© Copyright 2007 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved.

About the author: Bette Dowdell is a former IBM Systems Engineer, small business consultant and software company owner. She also studied and taught the Bible to just about anybody who would listen, including teaching serious theology to grade school children–mostly gifted, mostly boys–not a job for sissies. She wrote How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, a book about how the Bible describes Christianity, and she creates Quick Takes on Life, a no-cost, weekly e-mail subscription of her original quotes. Read about the book and get a quote subscription at . Contact Bette and check out her speaking topics at


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